SUS 36th Annual Meeting – Call for Papers


Archiving Utopia – Utopia as Archive

The Nittany Lion Inn on the Penn State Campus
State College, Pennsylvania
October 20-23, 2011

The 2011 Society for Utopian Studies Annual Conference celebrates the ongoing evolution of one of the world’s largest—and best–collections of utopian materials in the world. The Arthur O. Lewis Utopia Collection is housed in Eberly Family Special Collections Library at Penn State’s Paterno Library. The Society’s own archive resides here, as do thousands of titles, primarily in British and American utopian literature, published from 1516 up to today. In addition to the usual stimulating schedule of papers, this conference will feature an exhibit highlighting some of the collection’s most valuable treasures. Participants will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the many research opportunities here.

The conference will not only highlight the breadth and depth of the Lewis Collection, but also the importance of the archive as broader theme within Utopian Studies. This refers not only to actual physical spaces, but also the significance of the archive in utopian literature, archival practices in utopian movements, and the archive as utopian space itself.  We ask for papers, panels, presentations and performances on the cultural, political, social, architectural, and managerial aspects of the archive as utopian space.   We also welcome papers on other aspects of the utopian tradition – from the earliest utopian visions to the utopian speculations and yearnings of the 21st century, including art, architecture, urban and rural planning, literary utopias, dystopian writings, utopian political activism, theories of utopian spaces and ontologies, music, new media, or intentional communities.

Finally, in advance of a special issue of Utopian Studies on the theme of “utopia and education,” we also highly encourage papers on any aspect of that topic: utopian pedagogies (in utopian fictions or in actual practice), utopia as an educational process; education as a utopian process; the university as (intentional) community; geographies of utopian education.

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State College, Pennsylvania is home to Penn State University’s main campus, with around 45,000 students. In addition to Penn State’s beautiful University Park campus, surrounded by farms and mountains, the town itself offers restaurants and shops. The University Park airport, serviced by Delta, United and US Air, is only 10 minutes from the conference hotel. State College is located between 3 and 5 hours by car from New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Please send a 100-250 word abstract by June 1, 2011 to:

Sonja Fritzsche
Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures
Illinois Wesleyan University
201 E University Ave.
Bloomington, IL 61702

Or e-mail submissions to: (please put “sus submission” in the subject line).  As you submit your abstract, please indicate if you have any scheduling restrictions, audiovisual needs (overhead projector; digital projector; PC/Mac laptop, speakers, DVD/VHS player), special needs, or a need for a written letter of acceptance of your proposal. Note: All specific audiovisual requests must be included in the original abstract submission. Late requests cannot be fulfilled due to conference organizational deadlines.

For information about registration, travel or accommodations, please contact the Conference Coordinator, Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor at, or phone 814-867-0367.

Dystopia: What is to be Done?

Here’s a link to a website that is hosting a film by Dr. Garry Potter of Wilfird Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.  It came down from the H-Net Utopia listserv, H-Utopia (thanks, Pete).  Are you subscribed to the H-Utopia?  Maybe you should be.  Click here to take care of that.  The picture below is the link to Dr. Potter’s website/film.

Dystopia:  What is to be done?

Alaskan Dreams 11.04.10

With the darkness surrounding me and wet snow falling, it’s hard to imagine too much utopian about Alaska. Or is it? Once again the democratic process proved that it can get it right every once in a while. It looks likely (as I predicted—you can imagine me giving myself a pat on the back right now even as I type) that Lisa Murkowski (as a write-in candidate) will beat Jim Miller in the election despite having lost to him in the Republican primary. Now, of course, if this were really a eutopian world, then the Democrat contender, Scott McAdams would have won. But as usual the Dems screwed things up by running a no-name in the belief that Murkowski would win the Primary. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. On the other hand, Sarah Palin showed up with her tea party elite to support Miller and that didn’t impress Alaskans at all. We sort of remember that she ducked out as governor when some work had to be done.

I assume that most of you don’t pay that much attention to politics in the 49th State, so here’s a very brief primer from a utopian pov. Miller is truly scary. Truly, truly scary. One of the scariest politicians to come along in my life time. He’s guilty of numerous ethical lapses (aka lies); he surrounds himself with bodyguards (“get over yourself” comes to mind as a refrain); he would essentially dissolve large parts of the federal government on the grounds that individuals always know what’s right.

Now, I really don’t like Murkowski at all. She got where she got because of nepotism (she was appointed to the Senate by her father, Frank “the Bank”). She has all the spine of a contortionist. She pretends to be centrist when she’s pretty right wing. However, she’s a known quantity and won’t make Alaska look dumb as shit (can I say that word in a blog?).

Back to climatic utopia, not the political sort. Dawn’s breaking; the slush isn’t frozen anymore; and the mountains are bleeding spectacular. Perhaps there’s a utopia hidden somewhere just behind Flattop. I shall go and take a look.

—Toby Widdicombe

SUS Conference Dropbox

Well, we’ve made it through another year.  Our 35th Annual Meeting has come and gone, Milwaukee, Wisconsin having hosted us well.  To properly archive the event, a dropbox folder has been set up where you can put your pictures and anything else you like to share from the conference.  The contributions will be used to compile the next print issue of Utopus Discovered, which will hit mailboxes before the end of the year.  We’re hoping to get any issues we’ve had with what addresses we have reconciled so that everyone gets this next issue, so if you haven’t gotten the last two issues, don’t worry.  We’re pretty confident we’ve got it all straightened out.

In any case, in order for you to be able to add things to the “SUS Conference Stuff” Dropbox folder, you’ll need to drop the dropbox folder moderator a line so he can get you added.  You can do so by emailing the editor.  He’ll get you added straightaway and you can show us your stuff.